Sympathy for the Deviled Eggs

Sympathy for the Deviled Eggs

In Sympathy for the Devil, Madeline Bean, caterer to the stars, and her partner Wesley have pulled off Hollywood's most outrageous A-list Halloween party for notorious producer Bruno Huntley, complete with an eerie fortune-teller who is astonishing and exotic cuisine that is totally cool. Before long, Bruno is thrashing and writhing on the dance floor. Just one problem: He's not standing up. And soon he's not even breathing.

When Wesley is arrested for murder, Madeline begins to unravel a mystery that leads her back to the early days of California and a long forgotten curse that may still haunt the wealthy Los Feliz neighborhood to this day. Perhaps. But Madeline, wit intact, manages to bring things bumping back to the present. She uncovers a trail of offbeat nineties characters, one of whom has cooked up a devil of a murder--right in Madeline's own kitchen.

12 large eggs, hard-boiled (or cozy) and peeled
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
Red chiles, ground
Fresh cilantro, snipped

The first step may be performed with a dagger: Cut the eggs in half, lengthwise. Next, using the finesse of a cat burglar, ease out the yolks and reserve the whites. In a medium bowl, mash the yolks mercilessly with a fork, mixing in the mayonnaise, cumin, mustard, salt, and the jalapeno pepper. Clean getaway? Not yet. First, fill the egg whites with the egg-yolk mixture, heaping ever so lightly. Then hide the clues: Sprinkle with ground red chiles, and garnish with the snipped cilantro.

Caterer/sleuth Madeline Bean's tip: Presentation can elevate the humble egg to gourmet status. Place several dozen eggs on your most beautiful platter and create a lovely border all around with full sprigs of fresh cilantro. Make plenty. One should never underestimate the attraction of a great deviled egg.

Serves 12 modestly hungry accomplices.

Jerrilyn Farmer's caterer/sleuth, Madeline Bean, can be found in Sympathy for the Devil and Losing My Religion.

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Excerpted from A Taste of Murder by Jo Grossman Copyright© 1999 by Jo Grossman and Robert Weibezahl. Excerpted by permission of Dell, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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